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When looking at the ocean marine insurance marketplace, it’s easy to start speaking like former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talking about known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns—the things we don’t know we don’t know.

As a global business inextricably linked to the world economy and trading system, marine insurance has more than its share of unknowns. Speaking at the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) Conference in Paris, Denis Kessler, CEO and chairman of SCOR, characterized them as “key uncertainties in a stochastic world.” These included uncertainty about the shape of recovery in the face of a global recession, monetary policies, low interest rates and unstable exchange rates, taxation and regulation, and the sovereign-debt crisis. It’s useful to consider some of these issues and several others from the unique perspective of marine underwriters.

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